What Kind of Leader Are You?

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Good leadership requires more than just telling people on your team what to do. It requires responding to different situations with different tactics. The approach you adopt with one person may be totally different than the next. However, if you treat every person and every situation the same way, your company could be suffering because of it. Researcher Daniel Goleman studied 3,000 managers and described the six most common leadership styles in the Harvard Business Review. His findings are what follow below. The next time you ride in your car service to JFK, consider which of these types best describes you, and see how you could tweak your managing style to adopt a little bit of each, when needed.



This leadership style is needed when the team needs to go in a new direction. The leader will set an end goal for the group, but leave the implementation up to group members. This person will inspire the people around him or her to get excited about the new goal. While some employees may appreciate the freedom to work toward the goal as they see fit, others may have a hard time with the lack of specific directions. The visionary leadership style may also not work as well in situations where subordinates know more than the manager.



Giving people individual attention is the focus of this leadership style. Employees will receive a lot of interaction and advice from their manager, making it a good choice for those who want further professional development. If a worker is set in his or her ways, however, this type of leadership won’t be as effective. Furthermore, the manager’s approach might not be looked upon favorably if someone sees it as micromanaging, instead of coaching.



Affiliative leaders nurture the team, and they’re a source of positive feelings in the workplace. So, if morale suffers because things in the company take a major downturn, the affiliative leader can be a great asset. However, because it’s so focused on harmony, this style of leadership is not ideal at all times. If a person takes this amiable approach continuously, workplace standards will start to slip.  Use it when the situation calls for it, but be sure to use other types of leadership, too.



The environment under a democratic leader is one of consensus. The executive will ask the group for their opinions and draw on their individual sets of expertise to help make a decision. This style works when there is no pressure from a tight schedule, but if the decision needs to be made quickly, democratic leadership can be a poor choice. Other times it may fail? Situations where the team does not have enough knowledge to help the leader make a well-informed decision.



This leader expects better performance and faster results. In other words, he or she sets a brisk pace. Workers who are experienced and motivated will work well with this person. If an executive takes a pacesetting approach all the time, however, it can be harmful in the long run. Why? The high expectations will eventually be too much for employees, and they may feel they fail more often than they win.



As its name suggests, this style of leadership is like the commander of an army: He or she gives orders and expects them to be followed. Unlike democratic leadership, this style works best when time is of the essence and the decision needs to be settled immediately. However, its biggest shortcoming is that it can lead to unhappy workers and discourage creativity.


Leadership can make or break a company. If your company is experiencing low morale or high turnover, that may be a sign that employees aren’t getting the guidance that they need. Consider ways that you could change your style of leading, and try taking a new approach for a week or two. The results may be a pleasant surprise. 

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